top of page

‘Nothing’ Review - A colloquial character study into our darker depths

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

Review by: Al Phelan

The well-kept secret of the Banham Theatre had been transformed into a pretty convincing Doctor’s waiting room for LUU Theatre Group’s take on ‘Nothing’, a play created by award winning writer Lulu Racska. I walked in -slightly and mortifyingly late- to find a scene that was all too familiar, the small stage dotted with cheap coffee tables which were strewn with brightly-coloured tabloid magazines, half-full bottles of hand sanitiser and even a rubber plant - quite uncanny really.

All photo Credits to Abby Swain

However, that was where the likeness to the mundanity of a doctor’s waiting room ended. As a writer, Racska seems to have an undeniable talent for juxtaposing the sort of dialogue that could have been plucked from the mouths of two teenage girls at a bus stop with the poignant, honest trauma within the space of a few sentences. Each of the nine actors seemed to act as a microcosm for a sector of society, bringing the lines to life and conveying every multitude of conversation: from the humorous anecdotes that you may have with friends to the heavy confessions of the human experience that may never be shared at all. These monologues, which quickly transpired from colloquial sentiments to heavy themes of sexual assault, violence, hard-core pornography and toxic relationships, were electrified by all of the dedicated cast. I found myself actively listening to the stories, nodding sympathetically as one character talked about his childhood sexual assault, and the ensuing struggles with his sexuality that he had experienced since. Racska’s fearless writing forces the audience to look on as she scratches below the surface level of characters which have been skillfully painted as painfully human. Her writing seems to veer towards the more sordid elements of our nature, a barrage of fast paced and vulgar, violent images of war and sex punctuated by expletives that soon crashes into some form of sobering realization.

“Now, I’m straight, but I can admit when another guy is fit.” The well-carried line unites the audience in a knowing eye-roll, for we’ve heard it all before, and can picture the exact type of brash, bravado-stricken man who may come out with such a needless prelude to a story. The beauty of this very capable cast and writer, is that as they hold a mirror to people that we may know in our own lives, they also skillfully weave connections between each character. Two male characters went to the same party, offering glaringly different perspectives of a fight that occurred. The physical acting in this section of the play is rather satisfying, as one character raises the relatable issue of people dawdling outside a bathroom at a house party despite not actually needing to use the toilet, another actor recreates the pseudo-queue by standing in front of him and turning his head to look back at him obliviously. The audience laughs at the all-too familiar scene.

Yet despite these connections and the fact that the fraying threads of these character’s lives are running parallel to each other in the jumbled knot of a plot, they never truly meet. Being lonely, or perhaps more accurately, alone, is another theme that seems to jump forth in this play, as one character describes the need to get to the city, where no one knows him, and others talk about their issues with intimacy. One character’s monologue concludes with the pain-staking realization “Maybe I should go and spend some more time with my friends”. Perhaps the significance Racska’s choice to present this play as a series of monologues was to show that, despite the fact that our lives are all connected, there are deeper layers and secrets which we choose to go through alone.

As the play reaches its end, a deep, female voice booms across the speaker, filling the small, dark theatre. She talks of walking around listening to melancholy albums, thinking about how ‘everything is nothing’. The stage fades to black, leaving a sour taste of nihilism on the tongue of every audience member: a blowing crescendo to a play that exposes us to every aching layer of existence that each human carries.

Although not for the faint hearted, Racska’s ‘Nothing’ is well worth a watch, and will be performed in the Banham Theatre in the Michael Saddler Building on the 15.02.2022, 16.02.2022 and 17.02.2022. Tickets available via this link.

165 views0 comments


bottom of page